Trinity In Twelve Weeks
- Career Planning
- Internships/summer jobs
Why start now?
It might seem a bit early, given you haven't even finished your first semester, but it's a good idea to think about where you would like to go after you finish studying and how you might get there. This includes thinking about what kind of job you might like to have, and what you can do while in college to increase the chances of you being successful
You don't need to lay out a master plan to follow to the letter, but it's not too early to be thinking about internships and summer work that might benefit you in looking for a job after college, and to actively be thinking about what you are enjoying learning or working on, and what you think won't be for you.
How to do it
Start by thinking about the following questions
- What really motivates you in work - your beliefs & values are important here.
- Your interests both from an academic and extra-curricular perspective, what type of career and work culture might suit you best, and where your strengths lie in terms of skillset.
- Your emotional intelligence, this refers to how you manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Reflecting on how emotionally intelligent you are, in combination with the other factors above, may also help you to choose certain careers or work settings.
- A four-stage cyclical career planning process will can assist you in making career decisions throughout your time in College and afterwards: Know Yourself, Explore Opportunities, Make Choices and Take Action. There are some questions below that will help you with these four stages.
- What do I want from my career?
- What do I offer in skills, abilities and knowledge?
- What am I interested in? What am I passionate about?
- How would I describe myself? How might others describe me?
- Am I open to new ideas and experiences? How curious am I?
- How good am I at monitoring my own emotions and those of others?
- What jobs and employers are out there?
- What sectors are hiring at the moment?
- What aspects of my work experiences to-date have I enjoyed/not enjoyed? Why?
- Who do I know in the working world who can help me?
- Do I need a postgraduate qualification to get into this field?
- What impact / contribution did I make in each of my experiences?
- How do I tend to make important decisions?
- Which career options are a priority for me? Why?
- Do I have a contingency plan?
- Who or what got me interested in this area?
- What are the practical considerations that apply to me? e.g. budget, time, energy, location etc.
- Is my CV & LinkedIn profile well-tailored to my sector of interest?
- When is the next drop-in CV Clinic?
- Do I need to book a practice interview?
- Which careers workshops will help me most?
The Careers Service have a number of useful tools available to students to assist in career planning. Some of those most relevant for first years are listed here.
- "Profiling for Success" Personal Assessment Programme (Only available to TCD students and graduates)
- Identify your learning style and more.
- For people considering changing their course of study.
- Suggests careers that match your interests.
- Database of generic job descriptions (including many video case studies), the current state of the labour market & how to get into the area.
- For people considering changing their course of study.
- As the National Learner's database for Ireland it provides the most comprehensive information on further and higher education and training courses.
- Calendar of career events, info on grants.
CVs & Cover Letters
What are CVs and Cover Letters?
Your CV is used to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and confirm your skills, abilities & experience with the goal of being invited for an interview.
Your cover letter highlights areas of particular relevance and interest, showing your research of the role & organisation, and how you specifically meet some of their important requirements.
What should be in your CV
Your CV should be no more than 2 pages, and should be clear & concise. It should be visually appealing, but you should tailor the look of it to the organisations you are applying to and what their corporate culture is.
Name, address, contact telephone number (landline and/or mobile), email address and date of birth (optional). Include your LinkedIn profile. To save space, put them in the header of the document, with your name as the focus. It should jump out from the document when you glance at it.
Career objective (optional)
This identifies what you are aiming for at this stage and what skills you have to offer in relation to your objective. Useful when confirming your interest in a particular job or employment sector.
Education & qualifications
- Put your most recent qualification first.
- Give the full title of your degree. Spell 'Bachelor' correctly! e.g. Bachelor of Business Studies not BBS or BESS.
- Show the time frame and structure of your degree (recruiters may not realise that most TCD undergraduate degrees are four years long).
- If you studied outside of Ireland indicate the qualification equivalence if possible.
- Show your overall grades and the breakdown of your subjects within your degree (especially those relevant to your application).
- Leave out your Junior Certificate results, but give Leaving Certificate results.
Employment History/Other Experience
- Begin with the most recent job.
- Employers are interested in any work experience whether immediately relevant or not.
- Don't forget any part-time/vacation/voluntary work experience that you have.
- Emphasise both what you have learned and how you have made a difference to your employer.
- Emphasise the skills gained in each job.
- If you are a mature student here is a chance to shine, as previous full-time work experience, at whatever level, can be used to provide evidence of the skills and qualities required.
- Present your interests, voluntary work, involvement in clubs & societies the same you you do your work experience; this gives it value
- Provide detail of how you reached deciion, planned activities and worked with other to acheive results
Skills profile (optional)
This is an opportunity to show how your overall experience matches the requirements of the job. Use it to draw together different experiences under one core skill.
For example, teamwork could include group projects, youth club and travel experience, particularly if you have not referred to these earlier in terms of skills gained. Also give e.g. IT skills, languages, driving licence, if not already listed.
Get permission before you use someone as a referee and include one academic referee. Include name, job title, address, email and telephone number. You can also say 'Referees available on request' on your CV instead of listing them, but if an employer wants to contact them, you will have to provide details so make sure you have at least two who will be able to tell them how great you are.
Types of CV
There are a few different ways to present your CV, depending on what you are applying for, and your own skills and experience. Two of them would be the most relevant for you writing your CVs
List duties, and/or achievements and skills gained after each work experience or educational 'entry'. Be succinct in your wording (less is more in terms of impact!) and start each phrase with a verb e.g. assisting, completed, dealing with, awarded etc.
Advantages: Emphasise continuity and career growth. Highlights name of employer and position held and is easy to follow. Highlights achievements.
Disadvantages: When your work history is irregular or if you have changed employers frequently.
Best used: When your career direction is clear and the job target is directly in line with your work history/experience. (However, when the career objective and skills profile are utilised effectively, this form of CV can also be used where the job target is not directly in line with your studies/experience).Combination CV Example
Here you categorise your work experience and education according to your skills and capabilities. It highlights major areas of accomplishment and strengths and organises them in a way that will best support your job.
Advantages: Gives you flexibility in emphasising skills and abilities. Eliminates repetitive work experience details.
Disadvantages: Not suitable for employers who would prefer a more traditional CV, or if you have a limited range of experience.
Best used: In cases of career change or re-entry into the job market. Can be very effective when you wish to stress a particularly strong area of ability.Skills CV Example
A standard format for the covering letter:
- One typed sheet of A4 paper only.
- Refers to where you identified the job: "I enclose my CV in response to your advertisement in..."
- Outlines your current situation: "I am looking for summer work in 2018".
- Highlights your suitability. Reflect the needs of the company as outlined in the advertisement or job description and indicate your 'match' of skills, qualities and experience.
- Display a positive and enthusiastic tone throughout.
- Concludes "I am available for interview at your convenience' or 'between dates X and Y'".
- Type or print your name underneath your signature.
Why is it important?
You might think of networking as a business transaction. You go to a networking event, you try to meet people who are useful to you, have a free sandwich and go home. Networking is actually something you do every day, every new person you speak to, and every connection you deepen, are adding to your social network. You are always meeting people, so learning how to break the ice and have a conversation with a stranger is an invaluable skill.
Aside from the social benefits of having friends, there are two other reasons to build your network through your life (starting now!):
- For opportunities
- For support
1. While it is great to meet an important person who may be able to offer you a job today, it is also important to build professional relationships with people who don't seem to have any immediate benefit for you. As your life and circumstances change, and as their lives and circumstances change, you may find yourself in a position to take advantage of an opportunity they have for you, or you may have an opportunity for someone else. And you may find yourself with a new friend!
2. Your network is also a source of support when things go wrong. The more authentic your relationships are with your network, the more you will find yourself able to rely on support, whether you didn't get a job you wanted, or perhaps lost one. Your network can also support you in your work, everybody looks at the world through a different lens and discussing the project you are working on with a classmate or colleague may provide some new ideas.
Where to talk to people
One of the easiest places to start a conversation with someone is in a queue. If you stand sideways in a queue, it's easy to start a conversation with the person behind you (we'll get on to what to say shortly). When you're leaving your lecture theatres, for example, and you're waiting for everyone to get onto the stairs and out the door. Or when you sit down next to someone when you arrive to class. Waiting for food or drink at a bar or a counter is another time you can start a conversation with the person next to you. Or standing in a bathroom queue!
If you are at an event (and you don't see any obvious queue you can join!), it can be difficult to know if a group of people talking will welcome a newcomer or not but there is a way to tell. You need to look at the body language of the groups in the room. A group that is standing facing each other, with their backs to the rest of the room, and no gaps between members is a closed group. Closed groups are more difficult to approach and start a conversation with, as you will likely have to ask someone to move to let you in. They may also be having a more private conversation.
You should look for open groups. Open groups will leave gaps for other people to approach the group and join in the conversation. They will tend to face outwards to the room as well. The diagram below is an illustration of what that means.
What to say
Now that you have identified someone to talk to, you need to have something to say. This doesn't have to be elaborate, after all, you are only starting a conversation. Say hello and introduce yourself.
Typically the first thing anyone asks of a stranger is 'what do you do'. Everyone wants to know what other people do. This may lead to a natural conversation all by itself, and if so, good work, you are now networking!
Sometimes the question 'what do you do' produces awkwardness, maybe they don't want to talk about it. This is not an opportunity for you to talk at length about what you do, rather you should have some backup conversation topics. Two very simple ones, that anyone will relate to are
- What has just happened?
- What is happening next?
So if you are leaving a lecture, you can discuss what just happened in class, and the shared experience should make the conversation easier to keep going. You can also talk about what is about to happen, what class is up next and what do they think about it? If this sounds suspiciously like making friends, that's because it basically is. It's important in networking, as in making friends, to listen more than you talk, and to be genuine.
When you are confident approaching strangers and starting conversations, then you should practice what you want to say
How to get away from someone
So you've done it, you have successfully networked and you're in a conversation with someone you have now realised you do not want to be talking to. How do you escape gracefully?
The two most used excuses are two of the most reliable and least rude: 'I need to get a drink' and 'I must go to the bathroom'. If you don't intend on coming back to speak to them, choose your excuse, say 'It was lovely to meet you' and walk away.
Now that you have escaped, you can start your networking again in the queue at the bar or the bathroom!
How to prepare
Congratulations! You've secured an interview. If you've been invited for an interview it means that your CV and cover letter showed that you meet the basic requirements for the job. The interview is your opportunity to outshine the other candidates. To do this you need to prepare thoroughly, as hard as you would study for an exam. Here are 5 steps to prepare for an interview.
1. Focus on the job
- Read the original advertisement / job description and find out what the position entails. What do you know about the company?
- Read the organisation's website, brochure or annual report. Check social media for current news about the organisation. How many does it employ? What backgrounds do they have?
- Talk to someone who works there. Use the Trinity Alumni Community to identify alumni who may be working there and who can give you some informal advice and information.
2. Establish the ideal candidate
- From your research you should be able to work out a list of ideal qualities, skills and competencies required for the position. For example, self-motivation, problem solving, communication, creativity and teamwork, are some of the skills that employers will look for.
3. Plan your interview
- Have plenty of specific examples drawn from your own experiences to help you answer questions the interviewer may ask to establish if you are the most suitable candidate. Provide evidence and examples of your successes. The employer is recruiting you for your strengths. Your achievements are evidence of those strengths. If possible try to identify measurements for those achievements eg. "increased membership of the Tiddlywinks Society by 50%".
- Role-play a practice interview with a friend. Get them to give you feedback
- What does your body language say?
- Are you giving coherent and relevant answers?
- Practice talking aloud to yourself in front of a mirror .
- The Careers Service arranges practice interviews, on a one-to-one basis with a careers consultant or on video.
5. Be attentive to your personal presentation
- Dress appropriately for the job and sector. If in doubt, formal business attire is recommended.
Golden rules for answering questions
- Be enthusiastic, listen actively, lean forward slightly and keep eye contact with the interviewer.
- Reply to the question that is asked, not the one you might like to answer - in other words, listen. Undoubtedly there will be questions that are difficult to answer too.
- Always be positive. Even when things have gone badly for you, try to think positively about what you have learned from the experience.
- Promote your strengths - leave others to identify weaknesses.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
- Be ready to recognise simple questions calling for a brief answer.
- Be prepared to expand on something, which seems to interest the interviewer. Cut short descriptions when they are clearly not so interested.
- Ask for clarification - don't pretend to know something that you do not or try to answer a question you have not understood.
- peak clearly but not too fast.
- Try to avoid mannerisms - don't fidget.
- Don't interrupt the interviewer.
- At the end of the interview you will have a chance to ask questions. Have one ready.
Why get work experience or do an internship?
As the jobs market becomes increasingly competitive, relevant experience is critical. Most employers will expect students to have gained some form of tangible experience throughout their College years.
Experience takes many forms be it involvement in clubs and societies, community work, paid or unpaid work, an internship as part of your degree course, a structured work experience with a large employer, a laboratory or fieldwork based internship or a short period of work shadowing negotiated by you with an employer.
Benefits of getting work experience:
- Significantly boost your chances of a good job after College.
- Make it a unique selling point on your CV/application that allows you to stand out from your competitors highlighting your new skills and achievements.
- Work experience/internships enhance your employability and job prospects after graduation - up to 80% of graduates in UK companies are recruited from internship programmes.
- Creates a network of potential contacts for the future.
- Tests out what it is like working in a certain environment/job/sector.
- Any form of work experience can highlight your motivation to a prospective employer.
- If linked to your course it can provide you with the opportunity to put course theory into practice.
- You learn new knowledge and skills, both course-related (if applicable) and personal
- It gives an insight into working life, develops self-awareness and supports in making good career decisions
- You earn money!
Types of Work Experience
Internships are structured work experience programmes where students receive supervised, practical experience in a career-related area. Internships usually last between 8 and 12 weeks and are a great way of helping you to clarify your future career path.
- Training: is provided, generally to a high level.
- Project Work: You are generally given responsibility for a specific project and you are required to make a presentation at the end of the internship.
- Advertising & Closing Dates: positions are generally advertised between October to March. Closing dates are often early in the academic year, some as early as December.
- Target Group: Junior Sophisters are the main target group, but occasionally applications may be accepted from students of other years. Students from ALL disciplines are invited to apply e.g. Arts & Science students are often encouraged to apply for business internships. You may not be successful applying in first year, but this is a good time to research what internships are out there and what they are looking for in their interns so you have the best chance of being successful when you do apply.
- Competition: competition for places is tough but keep in mind that an estimated third of graduate vacancies are filled by applicants who have already worked for their employer as an undergraduate. Being offered a place on an internship programme often exempts you from a first round interview if you apply for a graduate position in your final year.
International Work Experience
More and more students are going abroad during the summer months. There are a number of programmes in place to help you to identify career-related vacancies. BUNAC offers programmes such as Summer Camp USA, KAMP USA and Work Canada. You can also go on a J1 to the States in the summer if you are over 18 - attend the J1 Fair next Thursday 30th November in the Mont Clare Hotel from 10.00 - 16.00 if you are interested
ALL work can provide learning opportunities. You can gain valuable transferable skills in any type of part-time work, including business awareness, time-management and organisational skills. Use the Careers Advisory Service to help you to articulate your experience effectively in your applications and at interview.
Placements with Small BusinessesThis can also be extremely valuable experience. Either set up your own small business (you can get help from Launchbox), or gain some very hands on responsibility with an existing small business.
Voluntary work often involves greater variety and responsibility than in a paid job. It is a super way of getting valuable work experience and building up critical skills relevant to any job.
There are specifically designed volunteer projects which often take place during the summer months. Although they are voluntary, you will probably have to pay for your own flights and some additional administration costs if the opportunities are located overseas.
Where to find work experience
Opportunities are advertised all year round but the majority of summer vacancies will be advertised at MyCareer from October - May.
You can also contact companies directly, with your cover letter and CV to inquire about possible opportunities.